Google Search Console: The Beginner’s Guide

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SEO Basics: Google Search Console

Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tool. Google Search Console is a free SEO tool offered by Google to check website traffic and monitor its performance. It also assists in the identification of critical technical issues on the website.

If you are familiar with SEO then you must have also heard about Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides tons of information about a website, but there are few things that are not offered by Google Analytics that we can easily access by Search Console.

Google Search Console helps to:

  • Identify the highest-traffic pages.
  • Identify highest-CTR queries.
  • Find the average CTR.
  • Monitor the CTR.
  • Monitor the impressions.
  • Identify the ranking.
  • Monitor the average position.
  • Identify the highest-traffic queries.
  • And much more.

Let’s learn how to add your website on Google Search Console.

Adding Search Console To The Website

First, sign up on www.search.google.com

Adding Search Console To The Website

Google search console provides deep insights about your websites, that’s why while adding, you also have to Verify your website. Verifying your website is necessary as it states that you are an authorized user, webmaster, or the owner of the website.

You can verify your property by many methods
Go to Settings > Ownership Verification

a) HTML File

You can download the HTML file from the settings and paste it to the website.

b) HTML tag

Add the meta tag to your website homepage.
Copy the tag and paste it in the head section before the body.

c) Google Analytics

If you use Google Analytics to track your website activities, then you can verify your property from there.
Add the google analytics code in the head section of the website.

d) Domain Name Provider

You can verify by selecting the domain name provider option.
When you select this option you will be provided with a list of domain providers, for example, BMAeasy, Godaddy.

Select your domain provider and paste the text into the DNS configuration of your website.

Parameters Of Google Search Console

There are many parameters of Google Search Console that provide tons of useful information.

⇒ Overview

This parameter shows the overall performance of the website. It shows a summary of your website. It shows any security issues or manual actions applied to the property, enhancements, and indexed pages of your website.

Performance

It shows the performance of the website. It helps you to explore the queries of your site search, how many people have seen or clicked on your website. Likewise, it includes the position of your website, CTR, impressions, and clicks.

The data is broken down into different metrics such as

Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices, Search Appearances, and Dates.
You can analyze this report to check the spikes and dips in CTR or impressions.

URL Inspection Tool

URL Inspection Tool is quite similar to the Fetch as Google which was previously in the older version on Google Search Console.

Mostly the report is used to troubleshoot the crawling errors on your website. You can perform different tasks by using the URL inspection tool.

URL Inspection Tool

  • Current status: You can gather information about the Google indexed version of your webpage.
  • Live URL: Check that your page is indexed or not.
  • Request For Indexing: request to crawl or recrawl a URL by Google.
  • Google Version Of Webpage: You can render how Google sees your webpage.

Run URL Inspection Tool

Click on the URL inspection tool in the Google Search Console.
Enter the URL (The URL that you want to inspect has to be in the current property.
You can inspect both AMP and on-AMP pages.
A result page will appear.
You can also run an optional live test or request for indexing.

Index

Index reports show the content performance of your website in the Google search.

⇒  Coverage

It shows the index status of the pages of your websites.

Coverage

It has 4 metrics such as

  • Error: It shows the pages that are not indexing. There may be several reasons for it showing an error of 404 etc.
  • Valid With Warning: It shows the pages that are indexed but have few problems.
  • Valid: The pages are valid.
  • Excluded: These pages are not indexed as they are in robot.txt. Google does not crawl these pages.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is a file that tells the search engine about the content on the website. This report shows the sitemaps which are submitted on the website via a report or an API.

Sitemaps

There are many types of information provided in sitemaps such as:

Sitemap Url: It shows the URL where the sitemap is posted

There are different types of sitemaps such as:

  • Sitemap: The sitemap which is in XML or text document.
  • Sitemap Index: It is a sitemap of sitemaps.
  • RSS: Sitemap which is in RSS format.
  • Atom: Sitemap which is in Atom format.
  • Unknown: Unknown sitemap type/ Unprocessed sitemap.

Status: 

It shows the status of the sitemaps. That is Success, Has Errors and Couldn’t Fetch.

⇒ Removals

It helps you to temporarily block the pages from appearing on the Google Search Result.

Removals

Once you’ve removed the content successfully from the page it will last for six months, after that the information will again start to appear in the search results. Blocking a URL will not stop Google from crawling that URL.

Enhancements

Core Web Vitals

It shows the performance of the page on real-world usage data.

The report is based on several metrics that are First Input Delay (FID), Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). There is a certain amount of data required to show the report.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): It stands for the time taken to load the largest element on the website. The largest element is mostly an image or video.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): How much the page layout shifts at the time of loading the webpage. Too many page shifts are considered a bad user experience. The score is calculated on a scale of 0-1. In which 0 stands for no shifting and 1 stands for most shifting.

First Input Delay (FID): The time taken from a user clicking a link or a button to the responding of a browser to that interaction is termed as FID. It is calculated from the first interaction/ click of a user.

Status is defined as

 

Poor URL URL Needs Improvement Good URL
First Input Delay ( FID ) >300ms <=300ms <100ms
Cumulative Layout Shift ( CLS ) >0.25 <=0.25 <0.1
Largest Contentful Paint ( LCP ) >4s <=4s <2.5s

 

Core Web Vitals

It shows the status of the URL such as Poor, Need Improvement & Good.

How To Fix Issues?

  • Test your page using the PageSpeed Insights Testing tool.
  • For example, this is a speed test of a website using PageSpeed Insights.
    PageSpeed Insights
  • We can see the LCP, CLS, etc in this.
  • With the help of these metrics, we can optimize the speed of our website.
  • The bounce rate is also affected by the website speed. Low website speed can greatly increase the bounce rate.

Possible changes to reduce the website speed time are:

  • Reduce initial server response time.
  • Themes and plugins can increase the website loading time.
  • Remove unused CSS.
  • Eliminate Render blocking resources.
  • Proper size images.
  • Remove unused Javascript.
  • When you think the issue is fixed, start tracking the issue details.
  • Track your validation process.

⇒ Mobile Usability

It shows the status of your pages that is Error or Valid.

Mobile Usability

The error means the web pages that are not mobile-friendly. Valid shows the mobile-friendly web pages.

How To Prioritize & Fix Issues?

  • To fix the issues of the pages that are showing errors, first you need to start with common problems such as templates.
  • Sometimes there are many errors caused by a single error, look for a corresponding spike.
  • Click on the row to check the details
  • The details page does not contain the full error pages as it only shows the list of 1000 pages.
  • You can also run the error URL in the inspection tool to get more information ( Try to run the live test as sometimes the error is already solved in the webpage and it is not showing on the indexed version. If the error is fixed in the live page but still showing an error in the mobile usability, you can request to recrawl.)
  • Fix the issues that are showing on the page, test your fix.
  • Go back to the issue detail page and click on the ‘Validate & Update’ button to start the validation process.
  • The validation process takes time, it does not show instantly that the error has been fixed.

Logos

It shows more information about the logo markup. You can click on the boxes in the report such as error, valid with warnings, and valid to get more information about it.

Logos

Review Snippets

You can review the snippets that you have added to the website. The snippets will be shown as Error, Valid with a warning, and Valid. You can click on these boxes to get more information on each of them.

Review Snippets

Sitelinks Search Box

This report lets you know that if there is an error in your sitemap. It shows the site links with error, valid with a warning, or valid.

Sitelinks Search Box

Security & Manual Action

Manual Actions

Manual Actions

Google imposes a manual action on the website if the human reviewer at Google detects that the webpages on the site are not compliant with the Google webmaster quality guidelines.

This is mostly done by Google to get rid of the spammers that trick Google to get on top of the result.

A green checkmark indicates that there is no manual action taken on your website.

How To Fix?

  • Click to expand the description in the manual action report for more information.
  • Check the pages that have issues.
  • Click on the description of the error. Some errors have a Learn More option (You can click on the learn more to get more information about the error, and you will also get the steps to fix the errors.)
  • Try to fix the problems on all the pages.
  • After the errors are fixed, request for review in the report.
  • Reconsidering reviews can take some time, you will be informed via mail.

Security Issues

If Google determines any unusual activity on your website it will pop a security issue. If you see a green checkmark, it means your site is doing good.

Security Issues

There can be different types of security issues such as

a) Hacked

If there is any hacked content on your website, then Google will stop the content from appearing in the result pages.

b) Social Engineering

If the content on the website tricks the user to download any unwanted software or any confidential things, then Google will impose a security issue.

c) Unwanted software

If there is any malware on your website that can affect the users then Google will impose a security issue. The malware can be installed by the hacker or by the owner.

d) Hacked: Content Injection

Hackers can add spammy links to your website. By having access to your website a hacker can modify your website in many ways.

  • It can gain access to your directory.
  • It can make your software vulnerable such as a content management system.
  • Hack third-party plugins.

e) Confirm the issue

If you think that your website has been hacked, then to confirm this situation avoid using a browser to directly access your website. (Opening the infected pages in your web browser can damage your computer. Moreover, hackers hide infected content by cloaking techniques.)

You can use the URL inspection tool to check your website pages.

f) Clean your website

To clean your website you can replace the spammy content with the backup content that you have. You can also choose to remove the spammy content from each and every page. Remember to fix all the pages.

You can check that your problem is fixed by requesting a security review.

Legacy Tools & Reports

There are different types of Legacy tools and reports like:

International Targeting

You can target a specific country in your search result.

⇒ Messages

You can read the message of your current property.

⇒ Url Parameters

You can tell Google about any special parameter that you use on a page URL to help it crawl better.

⇒ Web Tools

Other web tools that may be useful for your website.

Links

This report lets you know about the top linking pages of your websites. It helps to check if the links attached to your website are useful or spammy.

Links

 

  • It shows your top linked pages
  • Top linking websites
  • Top linking text

Conclusion

In short, If you are running your business online then you must have information about how your website is doing on the internet. Google search console provides a ton of data to the website owners and helps them to plan according to it. Using it can rock your business online!

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